I Think About Languages

I sometimes discuss my Texan friend which language is more difficult to learn for us, English or Japanese. Since I like discussing something with him, I really enjoyed talking about the topic with him.

I think in grammar aspect it is more difficult for us (Japanese people) to learn English because English grammar is very complicated and grammar rules are quite different from ours.
First, we don’t use alphabet. Second, we do not have so many tenses in our language. Our tenses are quite simple. We just have present, past and future tenses. Third, we do not have articles. So, it is a very difficult part for us to handle. I still have trouble with them. We also do not have the idea of counting nouns. We do not have the forms of singular, plural, uncountable nouns, countable nouns. Our words orders are complete different from English. From such aspect English sounds more difficult for us to learn.

However, in communication aspect I think it is more difficult for non native Japanese speakers ( especially western people who cannot understand Asian culture ) to communicate and understand Japanese people. That is because we are really good at handling vague opinions. We do not say our thoughts, feelings and ideas straight. We sometimes communicate with people with hiding our real thoughts. Since our verbs come to the last part of Japanese sentences, if people are not good at listening to our conversations, it might be hard for them what we want to say. For example if we would like to say ” I love dogs”, we say “I dogs love”. Our words orders are like that. So, if people do not listen to our sentences until the end of our conversations, they can not understand what we want to say.

I think communication is to try to understand the person who you are speaking right now. So, I think if we would like to communicate with the person, we have to understand him/her. In shorts, while speaking the person, we should try to know their favorite topics, talking patterns, talking habits or how we make them feel comfortable. I prefer chatting people who are good at creating their conversations.

When I started to learn conversational English, I was focused on practicing speaking in English. At the time I could enjoy any conversations, but after I improved my speaking skills, I realized that I would like to enjoy communicating people in English, and I do not want to practicing speaking in English. I really think languages are for communication and to try to understand each other. In addition, languages are definitely not for studying.


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lan'dorien
    Feb 28, 2011 @ 13:08:36

    I really like the distinction you make between speaking and communicating. So often when people are learning a language they think that their goal is to speak as soon as possible. Or if someone else is learning a language, they will be asked “can you speak fluently yet?”. Whenever I hear that I always think, “Well, don’t you want to listen as well? Is what you have to say the only thing that is important?” But as you say “to try to understand each other”, that’s why I’m learning Japanese – to make it possible to understand more people, to get different perspectives, to read different literature.


    • yumi
      Feb 28, 2011 @ 14:08:32

      Hi, nice to meet you. Thank you so much for subscribing my blog. I am very happy! Thanks for the comment. I am also glad because you know what I mean. I really would like to be able to communicate people in English to understand people more in English! That’s why I have been learning conversational English.


  2. Matthew
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 03:01:39

    I know your art is your life, but if you ever wanted you could definitely become a Japanese teacher. You’ve definitely taught me so much. Your among the greatest teachers I ever had my entire life.


    • yumi
      Mar 01, 2011 @ 04:31:44

      Hi, Matt. Thanks for the comment. You are also my extremely wonderful English teacher and my amazing American friend! I also have been learning lots of things from you, not only English, but also how to communicate with people in English. That is the most important part for us, isn’t it? Even if we can speak in another language, if we can’t communicate with people in the lanague well, the conversations are very boring. I would like to become an attractive English speaker more like many people come to want to talk to me again even if I can’t become a fluent English speaker. It is much more important for me.


  3. mike
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 12:23:37

    …….we should try to know their favorite topics, talking patterns, talking habits ……It is funny Yumiko, my wife is Filipina, the language there also has a somwhat different structure than English. And her English is often funny…and I often find myself saying things as she would say them. Some of the hardest things for her to communicate to me were as you say, tenses…wow I remember some of our conversations…funny. I have always done pretty well communicating with Asians and others….I also used to be a technical trouble shooter and trained myself to speak in ways that were effective. I love talking to people of other cultures and like to hear all the funny bits of language that happen as you talk together….it makes it fun for me…I can imagine all of the funny things I will say in Japanese or Tagalog!!!!…


    • yumi
      Mar 02, 2011 @ 13:10:38

      Hi, Michael. Thanks for the comment. I think that you are a mysterious person. When I looked at your profile picture on facebook, I thought you were dad who has around a 5 year old kid. When I listened to the story about your daughters, it surprised me a lot. In this time when I read your comment, it also surprised me slightly. I am a student of an online conversational school where is based on Philippine. That means all my online tutors are Filipinos. I am speaking with Filipino tutors every day in English. I can tell you that their English is much more advanced than mine.

      I also love talking with people from oversea because we can learn lots of things each other. I really think that languages relate to culture. So, if we can’t understand the culture, even if we can speak the language fluently, we can’t communicate well. I think communication skills and speaking skills are quite different because communication skills are influenced by their experiences.

      I think we can talk about some interesting topics and exchange our opinions. We should talk over Skype!


  4. minamins85
    Apr 09, 2011 @ 17:33:35

    Hello Yumi-san

    I am a teacher who teaches Japanese students online. I am very serious about teaching, and I have a burning desire to understand and communicate well with my students.

    I find your post to be very informative. I had been teaching for well over a year. Though my students learn a lot from me, sometimes I wonder why they keep committing the same mistakes. I was very much enlightened by the comparisons that you have made between the English and Japanese language.

    The idea of keeping a blog or diary is a brilliant one. It is good to talk to your tutors everyday, but you will develop your writing skills as well by maintaining a diary.

    Since you are very serious in learning English, I would like to share an article with you. It contains lots of practical tips for learning English. Here it is:


    Gannbate kudasai!


    • yumi
      Apr 18, 2011 @ 16:31:54

      Hi, nice to meet you! I am sorry I couldn’t reply to you soon. Thanks for the comment. I am very happy to receive your comment!
      Thanks for the suggestion. I will check it out!

      Yes, I will keep it up, of course because I have some dreams that I really would love to fulfill. That’s why I can’t give up learning English in the midway. I have a strong motivation, so no worries.


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